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Press Release

Malian Terrorist Leader Charged with the Death of U.S. Citizen Michael J. Riddering and Providing Material Support to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al-Murabitoun

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
The Defendant is Currently in Custody in Mali

A criminal complaint was filed yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn charging Mimi Ould Baba, a citizen of Mali, with the murder of United States citizen Michael J. Riddering, and conspiring to provide and attempting to provide material support, including personnel, to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (“AQIM”) and al-Murabitoun, designated foreign terrorist organizations.  The defendant is currently in custody in Mali. 

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI) and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charges.

“The Eastern District of New York and our partners in U.S. law enforcement will continue to work tirelessly with foreign counterparts to identify, incapacitate and prosecute terrorists who target American citizens anywhere in the world,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “Counter-terrorism remains our number one priority.”  Mr. Donoghue expressed his grateful appreciation to the governments of Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire and Mali for their continued support and assistance throughout this investigation

“The charges allege that Mimi Ould Baba played a central role in the planning of two separate terrorist attacks directed at Westerners in Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire in early 2016.  Those attacks resulted in the murder of American citizen Michael Riddering and 48 other innocent victims from numerous countries,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “Baba is currently in Malian custody for his terrorism-related activities.  We fully support the Malian investigation and prosecution of Baba and will continue to work with the authorities there to pursue our shared goal of holding Baba accountable for his crimes.  At the same time, these charges reflect that the U.S. justice system remains a powerful tool to bring to bear against those who harm our citizens abroad.  We will continue to pursue justice for Mr. Riddering and for all American victims of terrorism.  Our memories are long and our commitment to justice is unending.” 

“There’s nothing we could ever do to take away the pain felt by the families of those Baba killed during his 2016 terrorist attack in Burkina Faso, but four years later, we take some comfort in the fact that he will be held accountable for his egregious crime. I can only hope that as time goes on, we will remember the victims’ names instead of the attacker's, especially our own American citizen Michael Riddering, who was killed that day,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.

“Among the 30 killed in the attack four years ago was an American, Michael Riddering. Michael was in charge of an orphanage and a women’s crisis center in Burkina Faso. This case is another reminder that when terrorists kill an American, even half a world away, the FBI Special Agents and New York City Police Detectives of the JTTF will work as long as it takes, and go as far as it takes to bring justice,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.

As alleged in the complaint, Baba and the operations chief of al-Murabitoun planned and executed the January 15, 2016 terrorist attack at the Café Cappuccino and Hotel Splendid in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.  The attack resulted in the deaths of 30 individuals, including Riddering.  Prior to the attack, Baba surveilled attack locations in Ouagadougou, arranged the transport of AK-47 machine guns and hand grenades to be used in the attack, and transported the three suicide attack operatives to the Café Cappuccino.  Riddering, a patron at the Café Cappuccino, was shot multiple times by the attackers and died at the scene.  Following the attack, AQIM issued a public statement claiming responsibility for the attacks on behalf of AQIM and al-Murabitoun. 

Baba also allegedly participated in the planning and execution of the March 13, 2016 resort attack in Grand Bassam, Cote d’Ivoire.  Following the attacks in Ouagadougou, Baba once again met with the operations chief of al-Murabitoun to plan an additional attack against western targets in Cote d’Ivoire.  Thereafter, Baba identified an individual to further plan and execute the operation, and assisted in identifying three suicide operatives.  Baba also procured the vehicle used to transport the weapons for the attack.  On March 13, 2016, three individuals armed with AK-47s and grenades attacked resort patrons along the beach of Grand Bassam, Cote d’Ivoire, killing 19 individuals and wounding many others.  Subsequently, AQIM issued a public statement claiming responsibility for the attack. 

The charges in the complaint are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Margaret E. Lee and Michael T. Keilty are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Stephanie Sweeten of the Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs of the Justice Department also assisted in the investigation.

The Defendant:

Mimi Ould Baba
Age:  32

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 20-MJ-56



John Marzulli
United States Attorney’s Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated January 16, 2020

National Security